The Maddie Project – 4 Miles x 4 Hours x 48 Hours

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Run 4 miles, every 4 hours, for 48 hours, that’s the essence of the Goggins Challenge, and an amazing event being hosted by The Maddie Project.  

If you’re not familiar with him, David Goggins, as detailed in his book Can’t Hurt Me, overcame countless odds to become perhaps the toughest man on the planet.  His story of transformation from an abusive childhood, to battling weight issues and depression, to joining the Navy Seals and eventually becoming a staple on the ultramarathon circuit is the most inspiring book I’ve ever read.

During last Sunday’s run, I was listening to the audible version of his book, where he shared the story of signing up for his first ultramarathon, The Badwater

The Badwater’s calls itself “The World’s Toughest Foot Race” featuring a 135-mile course, starting 279 feet below sea level in California’s Death Valley, and ending at an elevation of 8360 feet up Mount Whitney.

The craziest thing is the race was the easy part.

The hardest part was qualifying. After a brief chat with the race director, he was promptly told that although his story’s great, with no training, no races, and never doing an ultra, for safety reasons alone they can’t let him in. He was given one simple instruction, if he truly wants in he has 3 months to prove he’s worthy.

The part I love about Goggins is he doesn’t except, turn away from adversity.

With no training and three days’ notice, he promptly signed up for the San Diego one day, running 100 miles in 18 hours. Then, when that wasn’t good enough, by finishing 9th at the Hurt 100 in Hawaii only two months later, only days before qualifying submissions were due.

I’m talking about all of this because after my first marathon in 2018, the thought of the ultra, and the people who complete them, has continued to amaze me.  Despite doing three half-ironmans, multiple bikepacking adventures, and countless medium distance hard runs, the marathon is hands-down, the toughest most gruelling pain I’ve ever put myself through.  The mind games it plays, the self-doubt, the suffering, are all terrible, on the flip side, crossing that finish line, is an emotional experience like no other.

The ultra both scares me, and fascinates me, and for two years now running an ultra has been both safely stored away in my bucket list, and gnawing away at me to make it a reality at the same time.

As I sat down with my coffee the following morning, I opened my iPhone and promptly came across a post from Canadian Running about The Virtual Goggins Challenge, run 4 miles, every 4 hours, for 48 hours, in support of the Maddie Project and North York General Hospital.  

The best part, the cause, The Maddie Project is a local non-profit that raises funds and awareness in support of youth struggling with mental illness, improving access to care for youth and their families.  Nicole German and Chris Coulter created the Maddie Project in memory of their daughter Madeline (Maddy) Grace German Coulter, I encourage you to learn more about their non-profit and the excellent work they do at themaddieproject.ca

With that I’ve thrown caution to the wind, and have officially signed up for my first ultramarathon event, 4 miles, every 4 hours, for 48 hours, starting 8 pm Friday, March 5, to 4 pm Sunday, March 7.  

From everything I’ve read, at 76.8km combined the on and off starts over 48 hours, will be both a physical challenge, combined with the mental challenge of constantly disrupted sleep throughout.

As I sit here writing this, and what I now have in store for me, it makes me think of perhaps my one and only favourite quote,

“And once the storm is over, you won’t remember how you made it through, how you managed to survive. You won’t even be sure, whether the storm is really over. But one thing is certain. When you come out of the storm, you won’t be the same person who walked in. That’s what this storm’s all about.”

Haruki Murakami, Kafka on the Shore

For my first training mission, I’ve chosen The Yeti Challenge, 5 miles, every 4 hours, for 24 hours, this January 30.

To donate, please visit my page at Cory Kawa – The Maddie Project Donation Page.

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